The optimism from the Cavaliers dominant win against the Blazers was washed away with a blowout loss to the Celtics to start a five-game road trip. The team has lost five of their last seven games, and need to re-discover their rhythm as they re-integrate Tristan Thompson, Isaiah Thomas, and now, possibly Derrick Rose into the rotation.
Let’s just say Orlando is an easy target.
When: 7 p.m. ET
Where: Amway Center, Orlando, Florida
Enemy Blog: Pinstriped Post
TV: Fox Sports Ohio
Online: Fox Sports Go, NBA League Pass
Cavs injuries: Derrick Rose (OUT - ankle), Iman Shumpert (OUT - left knee)
Magic injuries: Jonathan Isaac (OUT - ankle), Terrence Ross (OUT - knee), Nicola Vucevic (OUT - hand)
Three keys to the game:
- The Magic are absolutely horrible and they’ve been ravaged by injuries and even uncharacteristically great shooting from Aaron Gordon can’t save them anymore. A barely motivated defense can functionally wipe out everything they’re trying to do, and despite having good athletes on the defensive end, there’s not much cohesion. This roster is a mess.
- How does the Cavs rotation change with Isaiah Thomas making his first start? The starters are the unit that’s needed the most help, but Dwyane Wade also flashed good chemistry with I.T. in his debut against the Blazers. It seems like J.R. Smith is the most likely victim in terms of losing minutes, though while Thomas is on a minutes restriction, that shouldn’t be a huge issue.
- How will the non-LeBron/Korver Cavs play? They were collectively a tire fire against Boston, and the Cavs just aren’t going to win any games with shooting as ugly as the Cavs sustained against the Celtics. It’s not as though the Celtics are bad defensively, but the Cavs were biffing mostly open threes. It’s likely that most of the Cavs roster is looking for a mulligan after two days off.
Bismack Biyombo is terrible, but if the Cavs don’t actually pay attention, he’ll feast on open dunks. Biyombo ruins his team’s offense, but not if nobody’s bumping him off spots and not allowing free rolls to the rim. I don’t want to point any fingers, but the Cavs defensive attention isn’t always...great. Kevin Love will have to do battle on boards and on defense to punish the Magic for playing Biyombo.
Fear the Sword’s Fearless Prediction
The rested Cavs handle business and top the Magic 119-102.